The NFL debuted its regional scouting combine concept back in 2011. Ten cities this year hold a regional combine from January to March, with the best players going to a super regional in Dallas in April.
The March 2-3 New Jersey regional will mark a first in the regional combine process: A female player will compete.
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Lauren Silberman of New York City will participate as a kicker. A club soccer player at Wisconsin, Silberman has taken a different path than your average college kicker. She wrote a Master's thesis at MIT about how athletes use video games to enhance their own performance. She then founded a consulting company Double Play that helps athletes use video games for virtual training purposes.
"I was not aware that I was the first female registrant," Silberman told NFL.com on Tuesday. "I was actually hoping that the 2012 historical milestone rule, to allow women to play, would prompt more women to attend tryouts this year. But for me, what's important is to finally have a chance to fulfill my dreams by trying out to play in the world's most competitive football league."
Silberman, 28, will be competing against plenty of college kickers. (Greg "Legatron" Zuerlein was a success story from last year's regional combines.) She's the ultimate long shot in an event full of them. Her story reminds me of Albert Breer's piece on making the regional combines an American Idol-style buildup to the main NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
"The opportunity to attend this event could not be more exciting. Getting to meet interesting people and perfect my technique from others could not be more rewarding. ... Regardless of the outcome of the tryout, I hope there is a way I can contribute and strengthen the league," Silberman said.
We wish Silberman all the best at her tryout and congratulate her on making some history.
Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.